Despite the World of Trump, we can continue to turn the tide with our own decorum and the push for economic freedom.
“R.I.P. 2017!” said my wife, conviction and finality in her voice.
We're over it. Whoosh! Out the door.
It was mentally, emotionally and, to an extent, physically draining — courtesy of the din from Washington.
With fourteen months of non-stop artillery shelling us from each political side, you probably reached the point you didn't want to hear or read another word of it.
The World of Trump was so all-consuming that it seemed to darken all of the good that occurred in 2017, a totally eclipse of the earth.
So enough. We can only hope: Stop the personal attacks, the name calling, the taunting, the class warfare, the Twitter storms, the divisiveness that spews from both sides of the political spectrum. Surely Americans prefer the leader of the Free World and the leaders of our Congress to behave and speak with the decorum and dignity expected of their offices.
A few zingers now and then can be funny and effective. But when the insults and invectives are a daily barrage, the effect is exactly what resulted in 2017. It was ugly, often times sickening. Be gone with it.
At the same time, if you can put aside the animus and pragmatically assess the results, regardless of your political preferences, give Trump and the Republican Congress this: This is the first time in a century Americans will experience an increase in liberty on two fronts simultaneously at the federal level. Taxes and regulations are in retreat. And when they decline, your freedom increases.
For more than 100 years, as the scope of government has incessantly grown, Americans have seen and felt declining, constricting freedom. And particularly during the past decade, no one has felt that more than the middle class.
Here in Florida, however, declining taxes and regulations have been the trend for the seven years of Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature. And the results are illustrative: rising economy, jobs and wealth — faster than the nation (see chart). Proof positive that freer markets lead to freer, wealthier people.
So go ahead, detest Donald Trump for the way he behaves. But if he sticks to the agenda of declining taxes and regulations, as Florida has shown, it's a good bet Trump can and will deliver on his slogan: Make America Great Again. And make Americans freer again.
Never Trumpers, no doubt, will cringe at this sloganeering, more so because it is Trump's than because of what it says.
But surely, even if you can't stomach the president, you have to believe every American would like to make America great, make America greater or make America great again — depending on your point of view.
2017: Make America great
At this time last year, we thought three of those words — Make America Great — were an appropriate theme for the year. Even if Trump was polarizing, we chose those words as words to live by in 2017 — our annual tradition of selecting a word or words to guide what we do over the next 12 months.
We borrowed from Trump's slogan with this hope: “Imagine what could happen if Americans adopted in whatever their endeavor, whatever their job, a conscious commitment in 2017 to doing it with the idea of making America great ... of being the best in the world. Imagine what would occur if every American performed with a motivation and belief that doing his best and doing it right would make America better ... and themselves better along the way ...”
That would Make America Great — much greater than it already is.
Can he change?
Alas, Trump and the roiling resistance in 2017 scorched any hope of Americans uniting.
But hope springs eternal. Over 241 years, the people of the United States have shown an extraordinary ability to turn darkness to light.
And to that end, Americans have always placed their hope in the president to be a standard bearer and leader who inspires the nation to achieve.
Can Donald Trump change? Will he?
It's probably safe to say much of America hopes and prays that he will, that he will become a leader most Americans can respect. That he can continue to be tough and effective with his agenda, but also be dignified. We all know an effective leader often is not liked by all, but he can command respect by doing his work with honor.
What are the odds Trump will change? Not high, to be sure. Women know this well: Men don't change.
Turn the tide
But if Donald Trump of 2017 will be the Donald Trump of 2018, and if Washington, Congress and the national media continue what they were in 2017, what do we do?
Carry on. In the words of the late son of one of our Observer colleagues: “Do your job.” Control what we can control.
We can also turn the tide. That's what Americans do. They are the tide, with politicians typically riding the waves, following the voters' momentum.
So while Trump's style is mostly rejected, his domestic agenda of creating jobs and breaking down the Washington Leviathan — increasing freedom and prosperity — is still the rising tide.
We can keep this tide flowing in two ways:
1) Do our part to turn the tide of social discourse. Even if Trump, Washington, the national media and political agitators do what they do, each of us can influence the American social climate at the local level — with our families, friends and business associates. Create the tide of decency. Show respect. Demonstrate decorum. Don't pop off. Stay in our adult.
“Partisanship,” says economist Donald Boudreaux, former president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom, “is the natural nemesis of truth.”
2) Continue to send the message locally and at the state and federal levels that we reject expanding government coercion, regulation and spending. They are the antithesis to growing prosperity and freedom. Florida emphatically demonstrates that.
Or, in the words of the late Milton Friedman in his classic book, “Capitalism and Freedom”: “Increases in economic freedom have gone hand in hand with increases in political and civil freedom and have led to increased prosperity; competitive capitalism and freedom have been inseparable ... The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.”
How do you narrow all of this down to one word? Perhaps the radio DJ in Palm Coast coined it best. Let's make it “20-Great-teen!”